The Marion volleyball squad has new faces, a new coach and new fire as it heads into the 2012 season.
“I’m super-excited about this group,” said first-year coach Deanna Thierolf, who coached at Peabody-Burns several years ago.
“They make it exciting,” she said of her team. “They’re ready to go.”
Coming off a 13-21 record last year, the Warriors were gearing up for the 2012 season even during summer vacation. An average of 30 girls came in for practice drills, weights and conditioning, as well as scrimmages.
Marion returns a solid core of upperclassmen with plenty of varsity experience among them.
Expected to set the pace is senior Briana Hall, a 6-foot senior who brings height and power hitting to the Warrior offense.
“Briana Hall is looking really good right now,” Thierolf said. “She has worked really hard in the off-season. She’s lost weight, she looks good and she’s hungry.”
Also hitting will be fellow senior Montana Percell, who, at 5-11, brings additional height to the lineup.
A strong junior class of Kaelyn Thierolf, Megan Richmond, Kelli Hess and Katey Ehrlich—all at 5-6—have been hitting really well, Thierolf said.
Senior JayDee Schafers (5-7) will be there to fill in the gaps and classmate Balee Shiplet brings energy to the squad.
“Balee Shiplet’s doing a nice job for us passing the ball and being a great team leader,” Thierolf said. “She’s just been a real leader, pumping up the team and getting the girls going.”
Marion also brings some promising young players to the court, with sophomore Julia Hall and freshman Kirsten Hansen expected to see varsity playing time this season.
“She’s got nice hands and experience on travel teams,” Thierolf said about Hansen. “And good quickness, too, so she’s going to come in and help us.”
Adding some height to the roster is Julia Hall (5-8), who played last year for the Warriors and will also play setter.
“Some of these younger kids are hungry to get out on the floor,” Thierolf said, “so these seniors have to push because they have young ones wanting to take their positions.”
Despite competition for playing time, Thierolf said her team’s greatest strength is its cohesiveness.
“So far that’s just been really good,” she said. “This group of girls have just made everybody feel included.
“Our theme this year is ‘Faith. Focus. Finish.’ But we could add one more F in there, and that’s family. We’ve just kind of become a neat little family.”
As for team proficiency, Thierolf said she wants to see her team improve its passing skills, adding that you can have beautiful hitting lines and setting, but it all starts with the pass.
“We’re working on it and we’re going to keep working on it and get better at it,” she said. Hopefully, we will see progression and improvement in passing throughout the season.”
Marion was scheduled to face some tough tests early in the schedule, hosting Hoisington and Inman Aug. 28 in the season opener before taking on Hillsboro and Moundridge in their second outing Aug. 30.